Read CHAPTER IX - THE EXCURSION WITHOUT RUNNING AWAY of Up The Baltic Young America in Norway‚ Sweden‚ and Denmark , free online book, by Oliver Optic, on ReadCentral.com.

The second cutter was a wreck on the water, and the crew saved themselves by climbing up the bow of the steamer which had run down the boat.  They received prompt assistance from those on board, and, as the cutter did not sink, and would not have done so, having no ballast, even if she had been cut in two, the crew were so well trained that not one of them was guilty of the absurdity of jumping overboard, and therefore no one was even very wet.

It appeared to be one of those cases where both parties had struggled to avoid the catastrophe, but the more they struggled the worse was the situation.  If the cutter, on the one hand, had continued on her course, she would have escaped.  If the steamer, on the other hand, had not changed her course when the calamity was threatened, the boat could have avoided her.  The change of purpose in each had confused the other, and rendered unavailing the attempt to avoid the collision.  The boat would have gone clear of the steamer if the latter had not put her helm to starboard.  But the catastrophe was accomplished so quickly that there was not much time to philosophize; and as nothing worse than a stove boat had resulted from it, there was not much reason to complain.  We are not aware that any one did complain; and we only state the appearances, not the facts.

The steamer started her wheels again after the cutter had been secured and made fast astern.  The captain spoke only a few words of English, and Sanford found it quite impossible to hold a conversation with him.  But Ole Amundsen was at hand in this emergency.

“Tell him he needn’t stop for us, Ole,” said the coxswain.

“Don’t you want to return to the ship?” asked the astonished waif.

“No, no,” replied Sanford, in a low tone, so that some of the doubtful members of his crew might not hear him.  “Where is the steamer going, Ole?”

“To Christiania, stopping at all the ports on the coast,” answered Ole, when he had obtained the information from the captain.

“All right; we will go to the first place where she stops,” added Sanford.  “Don’t say a word to the rest of the fellows, Ole.”

“The first port she stops at is Lillesand,” said Ole.

“Very well; we will go there.”

Ole explained to the captain that the boys he had picked up wished to go to Lillesand, where they could join their ship.  This plan exactly suited the young Norwegian, for he did not like the idea of being landed at Christiansand, or taken back to the ship.

“Where are we going?  Why don’t he put us on shore, or on board of the ship?” demanded Burchmore.

“It’s a mail steamer; she is very late,” replied Ole.

“But is she going to carry us off, because she is in a hurry?”

“Only to a port up here a little ways.  We can come right back in another steamer,” Ole explained; and Burchmore was satisfied.

Now, the captain had certainly declared that he was in a great hurry, and was not willing to wait for the boat which had put off from the ship; but he proposed to hail a boat which was passing, and send his involuntary passengers to the town in her.  Ole assured him his companions wished to go to Lillesand, and he was too glad to avoid any delay.  As the first cutter followed the steamer, it was decided, after consultation with the captain, to turn the stove boat adrift, so that it could be towed back to the ship by the first cutters.  Sanford cast off the painter, and the pliant master of the steamer was glad to get rid of this check upon the speed of his boat.  The boys watched the water-logged craft till it was picked up by the first cutter, and then passing behind an island, the squadron was out of view.

“How came you here, Ole?” asked Rodman.

“Came in the boat; but I didn’t think you were going to smash her.  I thought I was killed that time, sure,” laughed the waif.

“But how came you in the boat?” inquired Wilde.

“I got in, of course; nobody put me in.”

“When?”

“When it hung at the davits in the ship, just before the pilot came on board.”

“What do you get in there for?”

“My education has been neglected, and I have to do a great deal of thinking to make up for it.  I don’t like to be disturbed when I’m thinking; so I got into the boat, and covered myself with the sail.”

“Tell that to the fishes,” snuffed Wilde.

“You can, if you wish; I don’t speak their language,” laughed Ole.

“But really, Norway, what did you get into the second cutter for?” said Sanford.

“The pilot was a first cousin of mine, and I was afraid he would whip me for making faces at him when I was a baby.  He never forgets anything.”

“Nonsense!”

“Well, if you know better than I, don’t ask me any more about it.”

Ole was no more inclined to explain how he came in the second cutter than he had been to solve the mystery of being in a water-logged bateau, out of sight of land.  It only appeared that while the students covered the rail and crowded the rigging to see the land, he had put himself into the boat.  When the hands were called to man the braces, he, having no duty to perform, had not answered the call, and was left alone in the cutter.  At sea, every precaution was taken to provide for the safety of the crew in case of any calamity.  Each boat was provided with a sail, a mast, a compass, and several breakers of water, and a quantity of provisions was ready to be put in when needed.  Ole stowed himself beneath the sail, which lay under the middle board, extending fore and aft.  Before De Forrest took his place in the stern-sheets, Stockwell had discovered the absentee, and communicated the fact of his presence to those near him.  The crew of the second cutter were entirely willing to keep his secret, as they were that of any one who needed their help.  Among such boys it was regarded as dishonorable in the highest degree to betray any one; and, indeed, the principal discountenanced anything like “tale-bearing,” to which the students gave a very liberal construction.  Sanford had proposed that De Forrest should take a walk on shore, in order to give Ole an opportunity to escape from his confinement, which, on account of the singular obstinacy and suspicion of that officer, had threatened to be indefinitely continued, till the collision came to his aid.

“How’s this?” said Stockwell, as he seated himself by the side of the coxswain, on one of the settees on the quarter-deck of the steamer.

“How’s what?” asked Sanford.

“It seems to me that we are clear of the ship, and without running away.”

“Don’t say a word.  We got spilled out the boat, and it was not our doing.  We obeyed De Forrest’s orders to the very letter, so that no fault can be found with us.”

“Of course not.”

“If De Forrest had not ordered me to shove off, I shouldn’t have done so.”

“Then the boat might have been ground up on the rocks.”

“Do you see anything green in my eye?” replied Sanford, suggestively.

“You don’t mean to say that you smashed the boat on purpose?”

“Certainly I don’t mean to say anything of the sort.  I obey orders if I break owners, or boats either, for that matter.”

“What are you going to do next?”

“I don’t know.  The programme is to go back in the steamer that returns to Christiansand to-morrow night.”

“O, then you mean to go back.”

“Your head’s as thick as the broadside of an iron-clad.  Of course I mean to go back.”

“Immediately?”

“In the next boat.”

Stockwell did not exactly like the sharp way with which Sanford dealt with his innocence.  Certainly the coxswain and himself had talked about an excursion to the interior of Norway without running away; but now, though the circumstances favored the plan, his friend plainly announced his intention to return to Christiansand and join the ship.  But it could be said of the coxswain that his ways were dark, and Stockwell was more inclined to wait than to question him.  In two hours the steamer arrived at Lillesand, and the party went on shore.  The place was only a small village, but they found accommodations for the night.

“What time does the steamer for Christiansand leave this place?” asked Sanford, as the party gathered at the station-house, which is the hotel, post-office, and establishment for furnishing horses to travellers.

“To-morrow evening,” replied Ole.

“To-morrow evening!” exclaimed the coxswain.  “That will never do!  What time?”

“About eight o’clock,” answered the waif, whose devotion to the truth did not prevent him from stating the time two hours later than the fact warranted.  “She may be two or three hours later.”

“The squadron sails for Christiania to-morrow afternoon,” added Sanford.  “The ship will be gone before we can get there.”

“She will not go without us,” suggested Burchmore.

“Yes, she will,” said Stockwell, who was beginning to fathom the dark ways of the coxswain.  “The principal will suppose we have gone on to Christiania.”

“That’s so.”

“But what are we to do?” demanded Tinckner.

“That’s the question,” added Sanford, with a blank look, as though he considered the situation as utterly hopeless.

“We are not so badly off as we might be,” said Boyden.

“I don’t see how it could be any worse,” replied Sanford.  “But I don’t know that it is our fault.  The captain of the steamer would not stop, after he had picked us up; at least, I don’t know anything about it; but Ole said he wouldn’t stop.”

“He could not stop,” protested the waif, vehemently.  “He had only just time enough to reach Frederiksvaern in season for the other steamer.  If he lost her, he would be turned off.  He wouldn’t stop for love or money.”

“No matter, for that; here we are, and what are we going to do?  It’s no use to cry for spilled milk,” continued Stockwell.  “The ship will go to Christiania, and won’t come near this place.  Mr. Lowington will expect to find us there when he arrives, and all we have to do is to make good his calculation.  We have plenty of money, and we can get there somehow or other.”

Involuntarily, every fellow put his hands into his pocket; and then, if not before, they recalled the suggestion of the coxswain, made before they took their places in the cutter, that they should bring their money and their pea-jackets; but then, it seemed simply absurd that the boat had been smashed by his contrivance.

“Was it for this, Sanford, that you told us to bring our money?” said Burchmore.

“I should say a fellow ought always to carry his money with him.  No one can tell what will happen to him when he goes away from the ship,” replied the coxswain.  “You can see that it’s lucky you have it with you.  We might have to spend the summer here if we had no money.  When will a steamer go from here to Christiania, Norway?”

“Next Friday ­just a week from to-day,” replied the Norwegian, very seriously.

“A week!” exclaimed Burchmore.

“That is not long; a week is soon gone.”

“But we can’t stay here a week,” protested Tinckner.

“I don’t want to do it,” added Sanford; “but if we have to do it, I suppose I can stand it as well as the rest of you.”

“We can’t any of us stand it,” said Wilde.  “Who’s going to stay a week in such a place as this?  I’m not, for one.  I’ll swim up to Christiansand first.”

“Can’t we hire a boat, and go back to Christiansand?” Burchmore proposed.  “It is not more than twenty miles, and it would be a fine sail among these beautiful islands.”

“All right; look up a boat, Norway,” replied Sanford, as though entirely willing to adopt this plan.

Ole walked about the place for half an hour, accompanied by three of the boys.  Perhaps he was careful not to find what he wanted; at any rate, no boat seemed to be available for the purpose desired, and when the excursionists met again, it was reported that no boat suitable for the accommodation of the party could be found.

“Then can’t we engage horses, and go round to Christiansand by land?” inquired Burchmore.

“In carioles?” queried Ole, with an odd smile.

“Carioles or wagons; anything we can find.”

“You can, but it will take you a day and a half,” replied Ole.

“A day and a half to go twenty miles.”

“About seventy miles by land,” added Ole.  “You must go almost up to the north pole before you can cross the river.”

“O, nonsense!” exclaimed Burchmore, who could not help feeling that Ole was not altogether reliable on his figures and facts.

“If you don’t believe it, go and ask the postmaster, or any one in the town,” continued the waif.

“That’s all very well to talk about asking any one, when no one speaks a syllable of English.”

“I will do the talking for you.”

“Of course you will; you have done it all thus far.”

“I don’t mean to say that you must really double the north pole, or that it is just seventy miles by land; but it’s a long distance,” Ole explained.

“No matter how far it is; we will go,” added the pliant coxswain.  “I’m willing to do whatever the fellows wish.  It shall not be said that I was mulish.”

“But if it is seventy miles, or anything like it, we couldn’t get to Christiansand before the ship left.”

“That’s just what I was thinking,” answered Sanford, with a puzzled expression on his face.  “Ole says it is a long way, and I have been told that these Norwegians are very honest, and will not lie; so I suppose he has told the truth.”

It was barely possible that the waif had learned to lie in England, where he had acquired his English.

“I suppose we must give up the idea of going in a boat, or going by land.  We can only wait till the steamer comes,” continued Burchmore, putting on a very long face.

“We can’t stand that,” protested Wilde.

“Well, what are you going to do?” demanded Burchmore.

“Can’t you tell us, Norway?” said Tinckner.

“I know what I should do if I were in your situation, and wanted to make a sure thing of it.”

“Well, what?” asked Burchmore, gathering a hope from the words of the waif.

“I should go to Christiania.”

“But how?”

“By land, of course.”

“It’s up by the north pole.”

“It is about a hundred and fifty miles from here by water, and it can’t be any more by land,” said Sanford.  “But I don’t care what you do; I will do as the others say.”

“I like the idea,” added Stockwell.  “It is the only safe thing we can do.  If we go back to Christiansand, we shall be too late for the ship.  If we wait for a steamer to Christiania, she will be gone when we get there.”

“How much will it cost to go to Christiania in this way?” inquired Wilde, who did not feel quite sure that his funds would stand such a drain.

“Here are the prices in the post-house,” said Ole, as he led the way to a partition on which the posting was put up.  “For one mile, one mark six skillings.”

“We know all about it now,” laughed Rodman.  “What’s a mark, and what’s a skilling?”

“Twenty-four skillings make a mark, and a skilling is about a halfpenny English,” Ole explained.

“About a cent of our money,” continued Rodman.  “One mark and six skillings would be thirty skillings, or about thirty cents.”

“That will never do,” interposed Wilde, shaking his head.  “One hundred and fifty miles, at thirty cents a mile, would be forty-five dollars; and I suppose we have to pay for our grub besides.”

“It would come to ten or twelve pounds, and Wilde has only ten pounds,” added Rodman.

“No, no; you are all wrong.  That means a Norwegian mile ­about seven of ours.  It would be only four and two sevenths cents a mile; say, six or seven dollars to Christiania; and the grub would cost as much more,” said Stockwell.  “Three pounds will cover the whole expense, and that won’t break any body.”

After considerable discussion, it was agreed to adopt the plan proposed, and Ole was instructed to make the necessary arrangements with the station-master.  The party went out to the stable to examine the carioles.  They were a kind of gig, without any hood or top, with a small board behind, on which stands or sits the boy who drives the team back to the station after it has left the passenger.  Tourists generally purchase the carioles in which they ride, and are not bothered with the boys.  The students were not very nice about their accommodations; and finding that when two persons went in the same vehicle only half a fare extra was charged, they decided to engage but five carioles.  As the law did not require the station-master to keep this number of horses in waiting, it was necessary to send “forbud” before the party started.  This was an order to all the stations on the road to have five horses ready, and may be forwarded by mail or by special messenger, the expense of which was paid by the young tourists.

It was solemnly agreed that the expense should be equally divided, and Burchmore was elected cashier and paymaster.  With the assistance of Ole, he changed twelve pounds into Norwegian money, and found himself heavily loaded with the small coins of the country, which would be needed in making change at the stations.  After all this important business had been disposed of, the party walked all over the town and its suburbs, and were duly stared at by the astonished people.

“We ought to write a letter to Mr. Lowington, and tell him how we are situated,” suggested Churchill, as they were returning to the station.

“Exactly so; and carry it to him ourselves,” replied Stockwell.  “I move you that Burchmore be appointed bearer of despatches.”

“I mean to have the letter sent by mail,” added Churchill.

“We shall be in Christiania as soon as any mail, if there is no steamer for a week,” said Sanford.

“True; I didn’t think of that,” continued the proposer of this precaution.  “The principal will be worried about us.”

“Let him worry,” replied the coxswain; “that is, we can’t do anything to relieve his mind.”

“I don’t see that we can,” added Churchill.

For the want of something better to do, the students turned in at an early hour in the evening, and turned out at an early hour in the morning.  They all slept in the same room, some of them in beds, and the rest on the floor; but those who slept on the floor were just as well satisfied as those who slept in the beds.  After a breakfast consisting mainly of fish, they piled into the carioles.  They were all in exceedingly jolly humor, and seated themselves in and on the vehicles in various uncouth postures.  One boy in each cariole was to drive the horse, and he was carefully instructed to do nothing but simply hold the reins, and let the well-informed animal have his own way.  The horses were rather small, and very shaggy beasts; but they went off at a lively pace.  At the first hill they insisted upon walking up, and most of the boys followed their example.  Behind three of the carioles were the small boys who were to bring the teams back.  These juvenile Norwegians were as sober and dignified as though they had been members of the Storthing, refusing to laugh at any of the wild tantrums of the crazy students.

At the first station, where the road from Lillesand joins that from Christiansand to the north, the horses ordered by “forbud” were in readiness, and the party had only to pass from one set of carioles to another.  The grim post-boys did smile faintly when they received their perquisites, and others, just as immovable, took their places for the next post.  The road now lay along the banks of a considerable river, and the scenery was rather interesting, though by no means grand.  They passed an occasional farm; but generally the buildings were of the rudest and shabbiest description, though occasionally there was a neat residence, painted white or yellow, with roof of red tile.  The boys walked up all the hills, leaving the sagacious horses to take care of themselves.  All the students voted that it was jolly to travel in this manner, and there was no end to the sky-larking and racing on the road.  At noon, they stopped long enough to dine, and at night found themselves at Tvetsund, at the foot of Nisser Lake, where they lodged.  As this was as far as they had sent their “forbud,” they decided to proceed by boat through the lake, a distance of about twenty miles.

The next day was Sunday, which was always observed with great strictness on board of the ship, no play and no unnecessary work being permitted.  There was a little church in the village, but none but Ole could understand a word of the preacher’s prayer or sermon; so that the students voted it would be useless for them to go there.  Four of the party, still controlled by the influences which prevailed on board of the ship, did not wish to travel on Sunday; but when it was represented that the ship might leave Christiania before the party arrived, they yielded to the wishes of the other five, and procuring boats, they proceeded on their way.  At the head of the lake they took the road, and walked about seven miles to Apalstoe.

“We are stuck here,” said Sanford, after they had taken supper at the station-house.  “This posting is a first-class fraud.”

“Why, what’s the matter?” demanded Burchmore, alarmed by the manner of the coxswain.

“No horses to be had till Tuesday morning.”

“That’s a fraud.”

“Well, it can’t be helped,” added Sanford, philosophically.  “I’m willing to walk, if the rest of the fellows say so.”

“We can’t walk to Christiania.”

“That’s so; and we should not find any more horses at the next station than here.  Norway says we didn’t send ‘forbud,’ which must be done when more than three horses are wanted.”

“Why didn’t Ole send ‘forbud,’ then?”

“He said we had better go by boat part of the way; it would be easier.  But part of us can take the three horses that are ready, and go on with them.”

“I don’t believe in separating.”

“We are only a day and a half from Christiania, and we shall arrive by Wednesday noon.  The ship won’t leave before that time.”

So Burchmore was persuaded to submit to his fate like a philosopher, which, however, was not considered very hard, when it was announced that there was excellent fishing in the vicinity.  It is to be feared that Ole and the coxswain had created this hinderance themselves, for the law of the country allows only three hours’ delay in the furnishing of horses.  The farmers are compelled to supply them, and doubtless twenty could have been provided in the time allowed, though the young tourists were able to give twelve hours’ notice.  This, however, did not suit the coxswain’s purposes, and as he and Ole had occupied the same cariole, there was no want of concert in their words and actions.  On Monday the students went a-fishing, paying a small sum for a license to do so, though this is not necessary in all parts of Norway.  The united catch of the whole party was one salmon, taken by Burchmore, and weighing about eight pounds.  It was voted by the party, before this result was reached, in the middle of the afternoon, that fishing in Norway was “a first-class fraud.”  We heard of a party of three, who fished two weeks, and caught eight salmon, though this want of luck is the exception, rather than the rule, in the north.

As the party returned from their excursion, bearing the single trophy of their patience, Clyde Blacklock discovered them.  He was alarmed at first, but when he recognized no one among them whom he had seen on board of the ship, he concluded they did not belong to her.

“Good evening, sir,” said he, addressing Sanford, who seemed to be the chief of the excursionists.  “You have been a-fishing?”

“Yes; and ten of us have one fish to show for a whole day’s work,” laughed the coxswain.

“Poor luck; but you seem to be sailors,” continued the Briton.

“We belong to the ship Young America.”

“Ah, indeed!”

“That’s so.”

In half an hour Clyde and Sanford were on excellent terms.  The former, when he learned that his new acquaintance had not been sent after him, was quite communicative, and even told the story of his experience on board of the ship, and of his escape from bondage.  Sanford laughed, and seemed to enjoy the narrative; but straightway the coxswain began to tremble when he learned that Clyde had with him a Norwegian who spoke English.  It was necessary to get rid of so dangerous a person without any delay.  The Briton liked Sanford so well that he was not willing to leave him; and, indeed, the whole party were so jolly that he desired to join his fortunes with theirs.  Sanford wrote a brief letter to Mr. Lowington, stating the misfortunes of the party, and that they expected to arrive in Christiania on Wednesday or Thursday.

“Now, Mr. ­, I don’t know your name,” said Sanford, when he found Clyde, after he had written the epistle.

“Blacklock,” replied the Briton ­“Clyde Blacklock.”

“Well, Blacklock, if you want an up-and-down good time, come with us.”

“Where?  To Christiania? into the lion’s den?”

“Not yet, but ­don’t open your mouth; don’t let on for the world,” whispered the coxswain, glancing at his companions.

“Not a word,” added Clyde, satisfied he had found the right friend.

“We are going to the Rjukanfos to-morrow, but only one or two of us know it yet.  Your man will spoil all.  Send him back to Christiania this very afternoon.  Here’s a blind for him; let him take this letter.”

Clyde liked plotting and mischief, and as soon as his guide had eaten his supper, he was started for his home in the capital, glad enough to go, for he had been paid for all the time agreed upon; and Sanford ceased to tremble lest he should expose to his companions the mistake in regard to horses, or another blunder which was to be made the next morning.